Spain made the most of their complete dominance over Albania on Sunday to cruise to an easy 2-0 World Cup qualifying win in Shkoder.
Julen Lopetegui’s men enjoyed similar levels of control at times in Thursday’s draw in Italy without taking full advantage, but there was to be no such failure in Albania, as their persistence paid off.
Albania were subjected to constant pressure throughout the first half, with Vitolo drawing solid saves from Etrit Berisha on two occasions.
The goalkeeper was culpable for Diego Costa’s 55th-minute opener, though, with his poor clearance pounced upon in the build-up to the Chelsea striker’s simple finish.
Substitute Nolito doubled Spain’s lead with a tidy finish shortly after his entry on the hour mark.
A late knee injury forced Sergio Ramos to hobble off, but it had no impact on the end result as Spain took their tally in Group G to seven points from three matches.
Albania showed no signs of intimidation as they got physical with their visitors, but Spain’s more intricate approach had them carve through the hosts in the early exchanges.
Thiago slipped a fine reverse pass into the danger area for Costa, who showed great awareness to backheel into Vitolo’s path and the Sevilla star forced a crucial stop from Berisha.
Vitolo was at the centre of things again shortly after, as he saw curling 18-yard effort tipped around the post by Berisha after being teed up by Thiago at the end of another well-worked move.
Such was Spain’s domination that Ramos became a permanent presence in the final third and his right-wing delivery shortly after the half-hour mark should have brought the breakthrough, but Costa somehow failed to get his head on the pinpoint cross.
The half-time interval did little to upset Spain’s flow and they went close early in the second period – David Silva cutting in from the right and sending a low drive just wide of the right-hand post.
Spain then broke the deadlock, with Berisha ensuring all of his hard work in the first half went to waste as he scuffed a clearance as far as Vitolo, who fed Silva into the area and he squared to Costa for an easy finish.
Spain effectively wrapped things up through Nolito in the 63rd minute, with the Manchester City star bundling himself past tired right-back Elseid Hysaj and placing a fine finish into the bottom-right corner.
Albania received a late boost to their chances in the shape of an innocuous knee injury to Ramos, but Spain saw things out in expert fashion to secure all three points without any fuss – the hosts failing to produce a shot on target.
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